Understandably, recovery projects have spurred job growth with Canterbury's unemployment rate to December 2015 sitting at 3.9 per cent, compared with a New Zealand-wide figure of 5.3 per cent.
New businesses continue to open in the city regularly. As an example, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority says 800 cafes and restaurants are now open, almost as many as before the devastation.
But much of the commercial reconstruction in the central city – notable for its extensive patchwork of empty lots and derelict 'heart' in the form of the broken Christ Church Cathedral – is on hold, awaiting major anchor projects such as the mooted Convention Centre.
The building blocks are in place, however. The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Repair Team is 97 per cent finished its 'horizontal infrastructure repairs' in the central city, clearing the way for the city's 'vertical rebuild'.
Christchurch-wide, building consents for non-residential work for the month of August give an indication of the pace of construction. Last year they totalled $NZ384.4 million – and that was 57 per cent of New Zealand's total. A year earlier the figure was $NZ115.4 million and in August 2013 just $51.2 million.
Private insurers have paid out a total of $NZ16.7 billion for claims to the end of 2015 – about $NZ9 billion for commercial, including $NZ1 billion for business interruption.
The commercial figure represents about 90 per cent of commercial claims, with a $NZ635 million settlement with Christchurch City Council about to be added.
Tim Grafton, the Insurance Council chief executive, says insurers are “continuing to make a major contribution to Canterbury and the New Zealand economy and are committed to settling the remaining claims as quickly as possible".
The public Earthquake Commission has paid out $NZ9 billion, taking the total to above $NZ25 billion. Tourism, a $NZ3.7 billion a year industry for Canterbury, is still struggling.
Christchurch is the gateway to the famed tourist destinations of the South Island and with accommodation, retail, transport and other infrastructure badly affected by the quake it saw its visitor numbers fall sharply.
Even now, Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism reports the city has recovered just 46 per cent of international visitor numbers lost in the aftermath.